In today’s world, you’ve probably heard people throw around the word narcissist a lot, especially on social media. People also frequently use it to refer to problematic partners, friends, siblings and even parents. However, who exactly qualifies to be a narcissist and what is narcissism?
Narcissism refers to maximal self-involvement, so much so that a person only thinks of themselves at the expense of everyone else around them. Now you probably think that there are times that you have been selfish and put your needs ahead of others. No need to get alarmed yet. It’s human to be selfish occasionally. Narcissism refers to frequent disregard and lack of empathy towards others. Narcissists don’t even recognize that their behaviour affects other people since they are too self-absorbed.
Here’s a list of traits associated with narcissists to look out for in yourself or others.
1. An Exaggerated Sense of Self-Importance
These are people who feel superior to others and think that they deserve special treatment. They will have fantasies of immense brilliance, beauty, power or success and even love. This inflated sense of self-importance gives them great confidence, which makes them excel in many fields. In the political scene, Hitler is an example of a narcissist. His exaggerated self-importance gave him tremendous confidence in himself, which saw him come from a broken family to lead the German Nazi party. In interpersonal relationships, narcissists generally seem self-confident and arrogant.
2. Excessive Need For Admiration
Narcissists need to be the centre of attention. There are two types of narcissism: grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism. While people in the grandiose narcissism category are self-confident, aggressive and dominant, vulnerable narcissists are very sensitive. They use narcissistic behaviour to mask their feelings of inadequacy. These people will be offended and display neurotic behaviour if you don’t give them attention.
Narcissists tend to monopolize conversations. Someone has probably crossed your mind at the mention of this. However, narcissists dominate conversations and are also not interested in what the other person has to say. If you’re dating one, then all your conversations are about them. They’ll talk so highly of themselves and even embellish their accomplishments or talents. If you don’t appear impressed or poke holes in their narratives, they get visibly agitated.
3. Exploitative and Superficial Relationships
Narcissists hardly have any long term relationships. These are people who use people, and once they accomplish their goals, they move on to the next one. In society, they will associate with certain types of people who command the attention of the community. These could be the elite, successful, beautiful or highly intelligent. However, relationships with such people don’t last because the narcissist gets jealous of the ‘competition’ due to their superiority beliefs. Criticism from other people also leads to fallouts because they are sensitive. Any hint that you don’t think they are as special as they believe gets you on the chopping board. They move on to other people who feed their egos.
4. Manipulative Behaviour
Narcissists are very charming, at least at the beginning of a relationship. They try to impress the other person, thus giving the illusion that they are charming and thoughtful. However, this is short-lived as their needs soon come ahead of everyone else’s. This is one of the main reasons why people stay in abusive or toxic relationships with narcissists.
They are also very controlling. Sometimes it’s not even about benefiting directly from a situation but the need to maintain control.
5. Have Trouble Adapting to Changes in Life
Narcissists struggle with compromise; thus, making it difficult to adapt to transitions in life given their illusion of being special. In case of losing a good job, a narcissist will have trouble picking something else that pays less or lower ranking. This inflexibility in their attitude affects their coping mechanism in case of major changes in relationships too.
6. Ignore Opinions and Facts That Differ From Theirs
Narcissists somewhat disconnect from reality, so they ignore any opinion or fact that doesn’t align with their perception of a situation. Ignoring different opinions and facts trickles down to all spheres of their lives. If you are dating or are friends with a narcissist, they will blame you for any conflict. They are never wrong and don’t take any criticism.
7. Expect Special Treatment and Compliance From Others
A narcissist has a high sense of entitlement thus expects special treatment from everyone. They will ask for favours and expect that you have to grant them their wishes. They think they are smarter, special and more important than everyone else, so they expect you to obey them without question. Lack of compliance leads to manipulation from them or termination of the relationship.
8. Have Suicidal Behaviour
Narcissism has a spectrum such that the degree of narcissism differs among narcissists. Narcissists on the extreme end of the spectrum are said to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) NPD is a mental disorder whose patients have an extreme sense of self-involvement. Studies show that persons with NPD have a high risk of committing suicide, typically characterized by lethality.
People who have narcissistic personality disorders are often unhappy, disgruntled with life, and feel empty. Since narcissists feel superior, they are not open to anything that involves exposing their vulnerabilities. Consequently, narcissists rarely seek therapy or help to cope with their difficulties, making them more suicidal attempts.
9. Lack of Empathy
Narcissists lack empathy for other people. Although sometimes they may appear to care for others, ultimately their needs trample on anyone else’s needs. They will do anything required to achieve their goals regardless of who else it affects negatively.
Reading through the traits of a narcissist, anyone can identify with a trait or a set of traits every once in a while. However, humans will be selfish, want recognition or be arrogant occasionally. If you’re guilty at times, this doesn’t mean you’re a narcissist, but if these traits are dominant, there’s a need for concern. The main causes of narcissistic behaviour include
- Genetics. One of the parents of a narcissist could have been narcissistic.
- Childhood abuse or neglect.
- Excessive pampering from parents.
- Unrealistic expectations from parents
- Social and cultural influences
Dealing with a narcissistic friend, partner, or family member can be very difficult since they’ll hardly take responsibility for their actions. Such relationships centre on the needs of the narcissist. Any attempts to criticize the person are met with aggression, manipulation and defensiveness. Most of the time, one has to maintain a certain emotional and perhaps physical distance to create boundaries, while sometimes you have to sever ties completely.
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